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‘Pipeline of work’ on track for SH package

TWO years since Tairawhiti was awarded a multimillion dollar Provincial Growth Fund roading package a single shovel is yet to hit the dirt on any project to improve the region's state highways.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is responsible for five projects worth $58.97 million as part of the $137m Tairawhiti Roading Package ($51.15m of which is funded from the PGF and $7.82m from the National Land Transport Fund).

Information provided under the Official Information Act shows none of those projects have yet started physical works and just $2m has actually been spent (as of August 31)

The $13.5m State Highway 35 Resilience project to improve route security remains at the pre-implementation stage.

A business case has been completed and endorsed, with the TRP design consultant panel awarded and design under way. Physical works are scheduled to begin on the first site next month, with completion expected by June 30, 2022.

The ($35.48m) SH2/SH35 Passing Opportunities project to create 25 to 35 passing lanes is also at pre-implementation, with works scheduled to start in December and expected to take two years to complete.

A $6m Waikare Gorge business case to realign 4km of SH2 is similarly at a pre-implementation stage. A draft business case has been completed and a final case is due to be endorsed by the Waka Kotahi board before Christmas this year.

The $3.99m SH2 HPMV heavy vehicle project to strengthen six bridges on the highway remains at the design stage. A physical works tender is due to go to market this month and construction is due to be completed by October 2023.

A $200,000 SH2 Makokomuna Bridge business case is in the investigation stage. A final business case is due to be endorsed by March 2021, following a cultural impact assessment. Construction is expected to be completed between September 2021 and June 2022, depending on funding.

Waka Kotahi system design senior manager Robyn Elston said the agency was not being hampered in the delivery of those projects by a lack of a skilled workforce.

“This work has been awarded to a panel of consultants and contractors to ensure adequate resource is available to deliver to the committed time-frames.

“Physical works will ramp up from November 2020 and we do not expect to lose allocated funding should there be time delays in completing the work.”

Finance Minister Grant Robertson told The Herald earlier this week the size and scale of the PGF projects around New Zealand was a challenge for everybody.

“Putting $3 billion into the regions has not happened ever and on this scale.

“One of the things when you are moving at this scale is the infrastructure of government isn't used to it either. NZTA have traditionally been working off the National Land Transport budget. We've put significant additional resources through from rail and additional roading projects.

“The good news for the region is the money is there, and there is now a pipeline of work.

“We want to move as fast as we can but regardless, we've made our commitment to the region.”

Overall, $208.3m of PGF funding has been approved for funding 45 projects in Tairawhiti, with $205.5m of that announced as of July 31, the Provincial Development Unit confirmed.

Just $48.6m of that had been paid out, with three projects, worth a combined $4.75m, completed.

“Estimating the time-frames for when payments are to be made is not a straightforward process as contract lengths vary, with some projects not scheduled to end until 2030,” a PDU spokesman said.

“However, it is expected most money will be paid periodically across the next few years. Contracts also contain safeguards to provide prudent management of the funding by ensuring progressive payments are conditional on milestones being met.”